Berlin Hauptbahnhof Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know
The Hauptbahnhof is Berlin's main railway station. Opened in 2006, it was the culmination of plans going back to 1989 when, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, integration of transport became necessary. The station is one of several hubs in Germany where various lines interconnect at critical transport points.
In addition to being an architectural masterpiece that is cleverly designed to allow maximum natural light to penetrate, this station allows access to all parts of the city, and further afield to the rest of Europe. Here you can easily link to tram, underground or bus. What's more, its central position allows for easy access to the city on foot.
This city has a long and colorful past that dates back all the way to the thirteenth century. Its more recent history, however, is still fresh in the minds of many. The Holocaust Centre and the graffiti-scarred remains of the Berlin Wall are two must-see sites. Since the reunification of the country, there has been a thriving art scene in Berlin and that attracts many tourists and art lovers.
Many of these sites can be visited using public transport directly from the Hauptbahnhof, but there is also plenty that can be reached on foot, such as the famous Brandenburg Gate. Lighten your load by renting a convenient storage locker at a service near the station, and then explore to your heart's content.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof baggage policy
There is no restriction about carry-on luggage on the trains in Germany. But there can be quite a difference between regional and international trains. International trains have an overhead rack for hand luggage and an area for large bags at the entrance to each carriage.
On smaller local trains, things are less simple and you may find yourself battling to find a place to sit and have your bags stowed away. It is a good idea to check with your rail operator and you can always store larger bags at a locker service near the station and take only a smaller carry bag for shorter country or city trips.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof food policy
Inside the station, you will find all of the usual food vendors and chains that you would expect at any modern European station. You will also be able to purchase both food and drinks at a REWE supermarket on level 1 if a picnic in the station is more your thing.
If you are happy to venture out for just a few blocks, then suddenly a whole new world of gastronomy opens up before you. You can easily find German staples such as different kinds of sausage or their beloved Schnitzels. You will also have access to more exotic dishes such as Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. If you want something a touch more refined, several of the hotels near to the station boast Michelin starred restaurants. All of these options are available after less than a five-minute walk.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof rules
Smoking is banned inside the station, and smokers will need to go outside to indulge.
Germany is a beer-loving country, and you can carry open containers of alcohol in the station. However, public intoxication is not allowed, and could lead to problems with the authorities.
Dogs must be leashed at all times inside the station.
Large suitcases are not permitted on the escalators.
Navigating Berlin Hauptbanhof
This is such a big station that it can seem a little daunting at first, though you will soon get the hang of it. You enter on the ground floor at Level 0. From there, you go up to Level 1 where you will find the ticket office, shops, and the first-class lounge. To get to platforms 1 to 11 you need to go up another floor to level 2.
But that's not all. If you descend to Level -1 you will find yet more shops, and if you go down another level into the bowels of the earth, you will reach Level -2 where you will find platforms 1 to 8. It's really a lot more simple than it sounds and don't worry about ascending and descending with your luggage. There are dozens of escalators and lifts.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof camera policy
You are allowed to take photos inside the station if you so choose. However, refrain from taking photos of security personnel or security cameras, as this can arouse suspicion. Also, if you are taking photos, make sure you do it in a way that doesn't cause a nuisance for other guests. Tripods and professional lighting is not allowed. If in doubt, it might be safer to leave your expensive camera equipment behind at a luggage storage near Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
Near to the station are a number of locker rental services and it really does make sense to consider using one of these rather than trying to explore this city burdened with baggage. Some of the better locker rental facilities allow you to make an online booking so that you are assured of a locker once you get there. A few even include insurance with the rental fee so that you can explore in total peace of mind.